As seen in the Huffington Post. (Read it here.)

Despite the constant stream of technological advancements we enjoy, the human element isn’t necessarily going out of style. Technology can be complicated and difficult to use, and user manuals and FAQs are no match for the guidance of a real, live expert.

At Firmatek we’ve spent the last 25 years within the mapping and measurement technology industry and the data we gather for our clients can be difficult to comprehend. That’s why our staff walks through the data and results with clients, sometimes spending hours on webinars to make sure we answer all their questions. When people who don’t have much experience with our technology see all this data, they don’t fully understand what to do with it and often end up distrusting it. A human touch gives them the comfort level they need in order to trust and have confidence in the results and the technology.

Customer Facing Advantages

Great technology is nice. But in order to understand what exactly customers need, you have to spend time with them and get to know their business. It’s more than a sales pitch — we like to partner with our customers to create the best technology solution, which means there’s a lot of back and forth during the development process.

Advanced technology can fall flat if it’s not addressing the needs of the customer or if it sits on the shelf because end users don’t know how to implement it into their daily workflows. User experience is critical if a new technology is going to make an industrywide impact. And hands-on customer support is an important part of user experience.

It’s also important to tailor the proportion of digital and human interaction based on the preferences of your client. Millennials, for instance, often want a more tech-focused approach, while baby boomers may prefer talking to a real person. Determining your audience and adjusting appropriately will help make those interactions more effective and build trust with your customers.

Internal Advantages

Trusted relationships between employees and customers don’t just benefit the latter group. The human approach gives our employees ownership of the company and helps them feel like they’re valuable members of the team. One of our goals is to be a trusted advisor to the clients we serve, and our employees take great pride in developing those relationships.

A recent survey by Appirio supports our internal decision to bring relationships to the forefront, illustrating that almost half of workers (47 percent) aren’t fully engaged in their jobs and that bonuses and monetary compensation aren’t enough to keep a workforce productive. Instead, the top talent is looking for a human connection with employers and colleagues.

For tech entrepreneurs, maintaining a human touch in your business is critical and can benefit both you and your customers. Not sure where to start? Check out the following strategies:

  1. Remember how confidence is built: We have a team of experts who help break down a customer’s drone data into easily digestible insights. From how to fly the drone to looking at 3D data over a webinar, we build confidence in our clients through our knowledge, expertise and accessibility each time our team interacts with them.
  2. Think about your positive interactions with other companies: We all talk about the positive and negative experiences we have with companies, and the ones I enjoy working with are the ones with the best service teams. At these companies, I know the name of the person who helps solve my problems. We are using this knowledge to improve and expand our account management system as we grow, giving account managers the tools they need to become a valuable asset to the client.
  3. Recognize employees for great customer interactions: Every quarter, we give an award to the employee who has been an excellent advisor to our clients. We tell the story to the team in quarterly all-hands meetings and explain how this individual went above and beyond and accomplished the goal of being a trusted advisor. Bonuses are nice, but you might be surprised at how many hardworking employees crave appreciation and recognition more than money.
  4. Promote the human element internally: Many of our employees are on the road frequently working around the country, but we still take time to bring everyone together and get to know each other outside the office. We hold an annual meeting with dinner and team-building exercises and host fun social events where employees bring their families. Our managers also have a quarterly “fun budget” that they use to promote the human element internally. It can be hard for some leaders to fathom, but this money is without a doubt an investment — when the team buys into company values, we operate as a more cohesive unit and deliver a better experience to our customers.

Tech companies, in particular, are often guilty of leaving out the human element. It’s important to understand, though, that digital communication can only offer so much. Human interactions are what build personal connections — and these are ultimately what customers remember and employees appreciate. If your company is looking to stand out from the crowd, incorporating the human element into your companywide strategy will help you reach your full industry potential.